In the wake of a super-nova of exploded hope in President Obama, a power vacuum is now spinning in our political universe. A desperate need to fill the void (lest it someday be filled with the unthinkable; a babbling Bachmann or weeping Boehner) has led to a frenzy of organizing among mainstream Democrats and Progressives.
Some, like the Van Jones/MoveOn "Rebuilding the Dream" coalition, are attempting to rekindle that obliterated Obama flame before the 2012 elections. To accomplish this they are strategically pointing the blame finger at "evil corporations," while carefully avoiding drawing a direct line from corporate headquarters (like those of Goldman Sachs, GE, and Monsanto) to the White House. Others, like the New Progressive Alliance (NPA), led by activists such as Cindy Sheehan, Cornel West and David Swanson, are taking a more honest and radical position, boldly calling out the Democratic Party leadership as sold-out corporate shills, incapable of reform and unworthy of further support. In other words, the power vacuum of the Left has a deeper split within - a true black hole that threatens to pull all of us into oblivion between now and November, 2012.
Free-floating in the void are record numbers of left-leaning Americans who lost all hope after what they perceive as Obama's Great Betrayal, followed by the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision, unleashing an unfettered free market for the rich to buy our candidates. (We may now envision them as a far less cool version of NASCAR drivers, slathered with the logos of their corporate sponsors). Many activists have likewise despairingly turned their efforts away from the grim spectre of national politics toward non-electoral campaigning, movement building, and direct action.
Yet we all realize that the 2012 elections will have major consequences for every aspect of our accelerating Crisis: global warming, permanent war, redlining economic and ecological collapse, and the growing power of the National Security State.
We cannot, in the end, afford to drift into personal oblivion, no matter how the Pharmaceutical Industry offers help in doing so. Too much is at stake.
The NPA and a large number of organizations such as RootsAction and Progressive Democrats of America have been hard at work on developing a body of comprehensive new Progressive platforms. This, ostensibly to galvanize Americans to rally again for the values that once defined the Democratic Party. All well and good, but we've got to have inspiring candidates to rally around, don't we? The lesson learned from Obama is that pretty words do not action make - and the Establishment Democrats and their Wall Street backers tell us what we want to hear in order to keep themselves in power. We also know that our two-party system is walled like a fortress against a third party uprising.
The NPA, for its part, is undaunted by this Corporate citadel that was once our government. They are planning the long-needed coup - an electoral insurgency of true Progressive candidates to challenge the compromised Democrats, and if that doesn't work, redoubling strength and charging forward as a new party.
Do they have the right positions?
Do they have the support numbers?
Can they win?
Not yet, anyway. The problem is that some of the changes the NPA - or any true Progressive coalition - will make once in power, need to be made before they can take power.
The reason we now suffer a ruthless Corporatocracy is because we no longer control our own democratic system. Puppet candidates have rigged themselves into office and manipulated our government to hand corporations the keys to the kingdom. We the People are now the rabble outside the gates, reduced to begging the rulers within to please be just a little less ruthless. Funny how they don't listen.
Our elections have been bought or stolen for decades, but the People are only now waking up. Most of the public (including Al Gore) knows that George W. Bush stole the Presidency in 2000, and many are aware (including John Kerry) that he stole it again in 2004. Republican operatives apparently decided not to steal the White House in 2008 once it became clear that Obama was headed for a landslide. But whether elections - or politicians - are literally stolen, or simply bought (including Barack Obama), the outcome is the same.
The democratic system itself is rigged against us - and this rigging is not just another Progressive issue, like ending the Wars on Terror and Drugs, or securing universal healthcare, or getting the 100,000 toxic chemicals out of our bodies, or preventing Monsanto from taking over our food and seed supply. To offer a descriptive metaphor; these issues and many more are where our ship of state is heading. The democratic process is who is controlling the ship.
Until not only Progressives, but also Radicals and Populists, unite and organize strategically, en masse, to take control of our ship of state, we are unlikely to ever wrest power from the super-wealthy elite and their global military-industrial complex.
So, how is the system rigged against us?
* Corporate campaign finance. Unless you are willing to be sponsored by the mega-corporations, you will never get out of the political gate. That's why it actually makes no sense to say Obama "betrayed" his constituency, or that he's a naive political player (from Chicago? Are you kidding?) Like the rest at the top, Obama is beholden to his powerful corporate backers. Reports from the Center for Responsive Politics indicate he's raising more money than ever from Wall Street in preparation for 2012 - as he must! You pay to play. Is Obama a good guy? Is he naive? Is he a Manchurian Candidate? It doesn't really matter. It's not about him. It's about the System.
* Corporate media control of elections. Unless you're saying what the small cadre of uber-powerful corporate media controllers want to hear, you'll be relegated to late-night Public Access and online blogs. And if you are a serious contender, you may not make it within a stone's throw of top-level televised debates (Ralph Nader wasn't even allowed in the audience of the 2000 Presidential Debates, blocked by three state troopers). The corporate media actively maintain the status quo with unrivaled power. Until there is free, fair and equal coverage of every candidate, there will be no real freedom of information within the sphere of elections - and no real democracy.
* Corporate control of computerized voting machines. If the good guys and gals manage to make it far enough to pose a real threat to the corporate Establishment, the voting booth is where they'll get the knife in the back - though most of them won't even know it. Over 40 years of citizen investigation has proven that our votes are regularly stolen within secretly programmed "black box" computerized voting machines. These Trojan Horses are owned by a handful of incestuous corporations with long criminal histories and strong ties to extremist, right-wing groups. Their machines now count about 99% of American ballots. Many of the Touchscreens don't even produce a paper audit trail to check the veracity of the totals (though even this audit is not sufficient - every ballot must be counted by hand, at the precinct on election day, not days or weeks later).
Combine the above with a laundry list of now-standard dirty tricks, from purging the voter lists and voter intimidation to phony robo-calls giving voters the wrong information on how to cast a ballot.
See our list of resources below for more information on how our elections are undermined.
The hour is more than late. We can now say with very little hyperbole that Fascist boots can be heard in the hall, and if we don't want them on the back of our necks, we have to think strategically. It's not enough that we are right - we have to win. This extremist corporatist junta is ruthless, and if you think things are bad now, just wait and do nothing. Only two things will stop them: a violent revolution, or a non-violent revolution. We prefer the latter.
Currently a number of Progressive leaders are issuing calls for major gatherings, conferences, protests and uprisings in the coming year. So far, these efforts are unaligned, and not focused on a strategic recapture of our democratic process before November, 2012. Many of the leadership say they believe it's impossible to achieve.
It is not impossible.
We - the Progressives, Radicals, and Populists, who constitute the majority in America - must focus on aligning strategically to win by stunning landslides in 2012, running candidates on the newly revised Platforms that truly represent the Will of the People. We must first outlaw the use of riggable computerized voting machines and institute a public paper ballot count with appropriate procedure and oversight. We must demand full media access for candidates. And we must threaten a full-blown Egypt-style revolution if Citizen's United is not immediately overturned.
It is not impossible.
Now is the time for fierce honesty and foresight, a recognition that business as usual is no longer acceptable. We've got to abandon the "my issue is more important than your issue" mentality that has so long divided and crippled the Movement.
If we begin now, immediately - today! - we just might be able to turn the USA Titanic around before the madmen at the helm slam us all into the icebergs ahead.
* To discuss and plan strategy for overthrowing the Corporatocracy and reclaiming democracy for the People before 2012, please join the discussion at the People's Congress.
* To support the powerful, vibrant movement for clean recall elections in Wisconsin, visit WI Citizens for Election Protection and Election Integrity on Facebook.
* Register to attend the upcoming Democracy Convention in Madison, Wisconsin on August 24-28.
Victoria Collier is Editor of www.votescam.org
Ronnie Cummins is National Director of the Organic Consumers Association
Further Resources on election fraud and citizen movements: